Fudging Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter PieOne of my favorite starving artist past times is taking recipes that are perhaps a bit…. over-involved or over priced or just plain obnoxious and making a starving artist version that is just as tasty for a fraction of the cost and time. Many weeks ago, long before bootcamp and certainly at a time where I was not at all concerned with what I was eating, I got a random craving for a peanut butter pie. Now the responsible thing to do when a craving like this hits is to recognize that it is born of misplaced desires and emotions and simply ignore it. Or you can behave completely irrationally and immediately leave your house to purchase ingredients. At this stage I went with option 2.

But before I could run to the grocery store in a fit of hysteria, I needed a pie. My go to for most things is Alton Brown – I adore the man and am a huge long time follower of Good Eats. Through some bizarre stroke of serendipity (or perhaps a cruel joke from the universe), his peanut butter episode was on Food Network that morning, which includes a peanut butter pie. You can view the recipe here. Now, as much as I love Alton, sometimes his recipes are just what I described above: over the top. Take this peanut pie for example: homemade chocolate crust, homemade peanut butter, chopped bittersweet chocolate… I get it, I do. This is what Alton does, he takes a recipe and makes it at the highest culinary level possible. And sometimes I’m in the mood for that. For peanut butter pie? Not to so much. Here is what I swapped out:

  1. Crust: do you know how expensive those chocolate wafer cookies are? Like over $5 for a pack. No. I bought a pre-made crust on sale for $2.99. They didn’t have chocolate, so I used granola. Perfect. 
  2. Peanut butter: I’m sure Alton’s homemade version is fantastic, but I’m not buying and roasting peanuts. Please. 1.5 cups from a $3 jar of Jif. Done.
  3. Bittersweet chocolate: I always have bulk semisweet chocolate chips in my kitchen. Those worked just fine.

Using all these substitutions I followed the recipe as it’s written and I have to say, I had a perfectly splendid peanut butter pie. Sorry, Alton!

Candy Bar Pie

In my second video recipe I show you how to make a delicious (and wickedly sinful) treat that your friends will freak for but will take you no time at all to prepare. Candy Bar Pie is a phenomenally versatile recipe that I hocked from my roommate. Her grandmother would always make it with Cadbury chocolate bars, which is decadent and amazing, but I take it a step further and say you can use any candy bars you like. Whatever you use. the same tasty rich results will follow. Mmmm.

Now, even though in the video I tell you to freeze the pie for 4 hours, you can easily get away with only 1, but I will say that the longer it freezes, the easier it is to cut and eat. Also, you’ll hear me comment on some “leftover bits” when I scoop the mixture into the pie crust. Sometimes when the hot chocolate hits the cold Cool Whip, it will seize up and harden before it gets a chance to blend – that’s ok. You’ll find it gives the pie wonderful texture. And come on, it’s a pie made of candy bars – what else do you want?

Promise me one thing: you will make this pie only when you know for SURE you’re feeding a crowd with it. It’s scary how fast you can mow through half a pie all by yourself… not that I would know…

Candy Bar Pie (Recipe PDF)

Crust Knots

I’m an unapologetic user of store bought refrigerated pie crust. Correction – I’m an unapologetic user of PILLSBURY refrigerated pie crusts. Unless it’s Thanksgiving when everything is extra special and over-the-top and you just have to make the crust lest you desecrate the fictional sacred tradition of our puritan ancestors, then yes I’ll make a pie crust… but let’s be serious, even then no one would really care or likely even notice (at least no one at my Thanksgiving table). If there is any downside to using a refrigerated pie crust, it would be that one winds up with a lot of excess crust. Though now that I think of it, you can hardly call this a downside. I mean who doesn’t want extra pie crust? And come on, the starving artist wastes nothing, particularly a chance to get creative with pie crust dough. And that’s just what I’ve done.

When making the blueberry pie I posted about earlier this week, I wound up not only with extra pie crust, but a ton of extra egg wash, which I feel like is also something of which one always has too much. So, while my pie was baking, I pulled out a baking sheet and got to work on the extra dough. I broke up the dough into 2-inch strips and sort of wrapped each strip around itself into a little knot-shaped bundle. I then dropped all of the knots into the bowl of leftover egg wash and tossed them gently. Then, they were  plunged into a bowl filled with cinnamon and sugar and tossed to coat (I use a 2 to 1/2 ratio granulated sugar to cinnamon). After giving the baking sheet a spray with non-stick spray I arranged the knots onto the sheet and threw them in the oven with the pie. Once they were browned and crisp, I removed them from the oven and brushed on a bit of melted butter. Yes. Instant tasty treat – no waste, no extra fuss, totally resourceful, and totally addictive. And the really good news is you can bake these at whatever temperature you’re already baking at, just keep an eye on them for doneness. Yummm!!!!

You know, this is inspiring me to explore other ways of using pie crust that isn’t crust for pie. I feel like the possibilities are endless…. any other ideas out there?